Time for something different now, as we take a look at a not-too-recent show from the English promotion, Tidal Championship Wrestling.

Largely based out of Leeds and Darlington in northern England, TCW have been around for a couple of years. Save for an odd show down south (Bristol and London in 2013), TCW have hung around Leeds, Darlington and Newcastle, and currently have four titles: the TCW Open title, the TCW tag titles, the TCW Women’s title, and of course, the main TCW title.

We’re going back to March 2016 here for their show in Leeds, called “Best Laid Plans”, and at this time, neither the womens nor the tag titles had been created yet…

The show opens with our host welcoming us, and in typical Yorkshire fashion, he’s wearing a flat cap. I guess his whippet was tied up outside. Welcome to “Yorkshire stereotypes that only Brits will get!”

The opening video shows a load of guys that will be familiar to Britwres fans, including your Jack Sexsmiths, your Chuck Mambos, your William Eavers, your Rampage Browns… and oh dear, El Ligero wearing a replica WCW “big gold belt”.

Tom Weaver vs. Sebb Strife
Okay, so they cut-off the intros here, but Sebb Strife’s in black jeans and a t-shirt, whilst Tom Weaver has gear. Strife kicks away at Weaver in the corner, and it turns out that Seb’s actually a commentator. So this has to be a part of a storyline, right? Weaver gets a boot up to prevent an avalanche from Strife, then lands a headscissor takedown to send Strife to the floor. A tope con hilo from Weaver takes down Strife, as the crowd chant for the pair to fight in the wheelchair lift that’s right next to the ring.

Weaver goes up top and lands on his feet from a shooting star press, then clocks Strife with a back roundhouse kick. An O’Connor roll gets Weaver a two-count, before a sit-out slam gets Strife a two-count. Strife lands a death valley driver in the middle of the ring, before a headbutt knocks Weaver down.

Strife chops at Weaver in the corner, before Weaver hits back with a palm strike and then pulls up Strife’s shirt over his head for another chop. That gets a two-count, before Weaver flips inside out after a lariat from Strife. Weaver goes to the apron, then flips back in and connects with a roundhouse kick to Strife’s head, before going up top again… missing a shooting star press. Undeterred, Sebb decides to go up top too, and pulls off a frog splash for the win.

Framed as a debut for a commentator-turned-wrestler, this wasn’t very good. No botched spots, but it felt as if they were going at half-speed at times, but hey, for an opening match, it’s what you’d expect for an indie. **

Sebb returns to the commentary table, then shakes Weaver’s hand as he heads to the back…

Sean Only vs. Ace Matthews
Matthews is one half of “Team Sports”, a team that we’ve seen once in NGW as enhancement talent. We start with Sean Only on the stage, cutting a promo, which features “seven months” a lot. Only passes a brief resemblance to CM Punk, with and the MMA gloves kinda helps.

He’s bitter about being forgotten during a recent injury, and says that he’s not playing a character… instead, he’s a medically diagnosed psychopath. He welcomes us all to his nightmare, and I guess we’re off?

Only Raven’s it up by sitting in the corner of the ring, and he stays there after the bell had been rung. Matthews waits for him to get up, and instead Only gets up and attacks Matthews once his back is turned. Knees to the ribs as Matthews is in the ropes, but Matthews catches a superkick attempt, and this degenerates into almost a fist-fight. Matthews mounts a turnbuckle to counter an Irish whip, then hiptosses Only for a near-fall.

Matthews grabs an armbar, but gets shoved into the ropes and takes a high knee before he’s dumped out to the floor. Only knees Matthews again as he climbed back onto the apron, and we get a variation of the annoying “count ahead of the referee” gimmick, with the Tidal crowd going “ah ah ahh” as if they were Count von Count from Sesame Street. At least it’s not as match-ruining…

Ace finally gets back in with a sunset flip for a one-count, then gets shoved into the middle turnbuckle by Only. A knee-lift gets Only a two-count, and it’s one-way traffic here, as Matthews’ brief attacks quickly get cut off. Only’s back elbow gets him a two-count, before he lands the Nervous Breakdown (implant DDT) for a series of two-counts.

Only flips off the crowd, then pounds Matthews some more, before Matthews gets an uppercut, then a side Russian legsweep. Matthews tried for a ripcord something-or-other, but he’s cut-off by a kick to the midsection, then another knee lift, before he rolls out of a back suplex and gives Only one.

Matthews misses an avalanche in the corner, and Only sells his shoulder after he threw a punch to Matthews’ back. The referee tends to Only in the corner, but he doesn’t wave off the match, and instead inadvertently distracts Matthews for long enough for only to stop playing possum, and drill him with a superkick for the win. Yeah. That was something. There was virtual silence after the bell, which isn’t a good sign that the crowd’s buying into a character. Perhaps if he didn’t look so much like early CM Punk mashed-up with Raven… **

After the match, Only mounts Matthews and punches away, before landing “One Last Caress” – his name for a curb stomp. So that’s CM Punk, Raven and Seth Rollins?

Addy Starr & Jason Prime vs. JD Boom & Ruby Summers
JD Boom seems to be a comedy act, given that he’s wearing a hat made out of three balloons… Jason Prime is WCPW’s Primate…looking through Tidal’s history, it seems that JD has had quite a history with Addy Starr, including a Lego Death Match (of all things!)

Boom, whose hair rivals Enzo Amore for absurdity, starts in the ring with Prime, and Prime traps him in a headlock, before blocking a shove into the ropes… by grabbing onto Boom’s moustache. Boom tries to do the same thing by grabbing onto Prime’s beard, which earns him a bodyslam moments later.

A reverse T-bone suplex sees Prime throw Boom across the ring, before Boom somehow turfs Prime to the floor. Addy Starr tags herself in, and she flips out after Boom tries a test of strength by grabbing her breast. A Fireman’s carry suplex gets Starr a near-fall, and after slapping Boom, Prime comes back in to continue the arse kicking.

Prime obliterates Boom with chops in the corner, before landing a series of release German suplexes. Kill the jobber! Prime stands up after a one count, then brings Starr back into get a two-count after a forearm to the back of the neck of Boom.

Starr gets a one count after sitting on Boom’s face, then tags Prime back in. Some headbutts for Boom, and an overhead belly-to-belly suplex sees Boom almost land on his head. Boom blocks a stunner from Starr by pulling the hair, and he finally tags out to Ruby Summers, who dropkicks Prime off the apron.

Summers goes flying with a tope to the outside that she turns into a DDT, then tags Boom back in. The commentators buried her for that, so you know it was going to be a dumb move. Starr grabbs JD’s Boom, and after he fails to do a Joey Ryan, he ends up taking a choke-the-chicken slam. We see a Cattle Mutilation on Boom from Starr, who releases the hold and goes for a curb stomp that gets her a near-fall.

The fans actively chant for Boom to quit, but Starr works free, and leaves Boom in place for a German suplex… and still he kicks out. Prime tags in and adds more pain with a chop to the chest, then a belly to belly suplex. Starr returns as Boom half-heartedly tries for a belly to belly himself, only to end up taking Sasha Banks’ double knee stomp in the corner.

Somehow, Boom gets a backpack stunner out of nowhere on Starr, and tags leads this to become Summers vs. Prime. Summers gets offence in, including a flying ‘rana off the top rope, then a Codebreaker that gets her a one-count. Why the hell is “the Primate” selling for anyone?!

No sooner had I typed that, Prime hits a double German suplex to Boom and Summers, then spears Summers out of the ring. An Arn Anderson-style spinebuster leads to a double team wheelbarrow Ace crusher, and finally Prime and Starr win. This felt like an over-extended squash match, and could have gone a little shorter, but it wasn’t horrid. Summers looked pretty good in her limited role, and if anything, I quite enjoyed JD Boom being a human crash test dummy. **½

El Ligero vs. Chuck Taylor vs. HT Drake vs. Ricochet
Sorry Drake, but you stick out like a sore thumb in this one! For some reason Taylor’s watching from the stands as the referee takes his place for a four-way test of strength to start us off.

The referee offers to fight all three men after they turn on him, and that leads to referee Craig Anderson corpsing as he struggled to contain himself, after the wrestlers fled from him. The gaga continues as TCW commentator Aaron Beatup gets thrown in for some soft-style wrestling.

A restless crowd breaks into chants of “we want wrestling”, and finally we get action as the American pair corner Ligero and Drake. Ligero takes down Ricochet with some headscissors, before Drake back body drops him to the floor. Drake then takes a DDT from Taylor as Ricochet connected with a neckbreaker on the “Kentucky Gentleman”.

Taylor gives and receives, with an ongoing series of elbows and big boots taking out the rest of the field in succession, that turns into a comedy spot. He then takes down Drake with a missile dropkick, as he then gets tossed out, before Ricochet lands a tope into Ligero and Taylor on the floor. Drake follows up with an Asai moonsault.

After missing an avalanche in the corner, Drake gets attacked by a flying Ligero, courtesy of an overhead belly-to-belly from Taylor. Ricochet runs in and takes down Taylor, before getting crotched on the top rope, and we get a mini tower of doom, where Taylor takes down Ricochet with a reverse superplex, whilst Ligero powerbombed Taylor at the same time. A senton bomb off the top sees Drake squash Ricochet, but Ligero breaks up the cover.

Ligero superkicks Drake, then runs into a knee from Taylor. Drake comes back in with a back heel kick to Ricochet, and then it all calmed down for a moment.

Drake takes a Northern Lights suplex that rolled into a brainbuster by Ricochet, who then got planted by a reverse rana from Ligero. Taylor gave Ligero the Eat Defeat, then a pop-up powerbomb, before Drake got a near-fall from a full nelson into a German suplex. Ligero landed an apron dropkick onto Drake, before a C4L was turned into another full nelson into a German suplex.

A standing shooting star press from Ricochet broke up that pin, before a series of kicks, a high knee, then the Benadryller got Ricochet the win. Put this under “more entertaining live that on tape”, it felt very spotty in the middle, but after you got past the gaga at the start, you had a pretty good four-way. ***½

Dan James vs. David Graves
Graves is one half of NGW’s “Team Sport”, and he’s doing the rugby player gimmick that Cesaro had when he started in WWE, with the thigh tape and a rugby ball.

The referee pulls a chain out of Dan James’ boots, and then Graves and the referee play piggy in the middle as James has a second chain… which leads to a roll-up for a near fall as we start this off with a schoolboy.

Graves lights up James with forearms, before a leg trip and a La Magistral cradle ended up with nothing because he was too close to the ropes. A high-angle Northern Lights suplex gets Graves a two-count, and James decides to try and walk out. James returns and falls into a waistlock takedown. The pair exchange waistlock reversals, before Graves gets a near-fall from a sunset flip, before a “conversion” (a PK, but with a rugby player-style theatric beforehand).

Graves whiffs a dive off the top, and that gives James the opening to work on Graves’ left arm, with an armbar, then a hammerlock-assisted chinlock. The crowd do a load of chants a la Noam Dar, using “Dan” to rile up James, and that seems to distract him. A lot. Graves gets a slingshot German for a near-fall, before he takes a dropkick from James.

James blocks a sunset flip, before missing a kneedrop to Graves’ arm, but he does send the relative rookie to the outside. A rear chinlock keeps Graves down, before Graves powers up into a Fireman’s carry briefly. Several kicks to the thighs get Graves a brief glimmer of hope, as does a back elbow out of the corner, and a springboard European uppercut out of the corner.

Graves goes for a German suplex, and finally gets it at the second time of asking for a near-fall, before James lands an Arn Anderson-style spinebuster. Which is ironic, because he facially looks like Ole. Graves gets a Fireman’s carry into a flapjack for a near-fall, before a missed clothesline leads to James landing an Unprettier, and then switches it into an armbar.

James turns the armbar into a crossface after Graves had crawled towards the ropes, but finally the former rugby player gets the break. James goes to the corner and grabs a chain that the referee really didn’t get rid of properly earlier, before he misses a chain-assisted punch. Graves counters by throwing him a rugby ball and tackling him to the mat, and then getting the headlock driver for the winner. This was quite enjoyable, and a completely different kettle of fish to the prior four-way. **¾

Joseph Conners vs. Liam Lazarus
Liam Lazarus, of course, is Liam Slater elsewhere in England… Conners bizarrely gets “you know nothing” chants, and we start with both men going back and forth in a tie-up, before Conners takes down Lazarus… and we get a stand-off.

Lazarus takes down Conners with an arm lift, before he forces Conners to bridge out of some pins after they’d been caught in a knuckle-lock. Conners tries to push out of an armbar, but fails and gets taken to the mat, before Lazarus still keeps the armbar in place as Conners tries for some headscissors. After releasing the hold, Conners grabbed a kneebar and rolled through with it, before going to a grounded headlock.

Lazarus eventually reverses it, and grabs a headlock of his own, before Conners reverses, and gets taken into some headscissors before the eventual escape. They stay grounded as Lazarus grabs a knuckle lock and torques the arm back against his knee, and then switches up into a Japanese strangle hold, which Conners finally reverses.

An armdrag sees Conners take down Lazarus and grab an armbar, before Lazarus worked free and scored a hattrick of armdrags, which leads us to… another armbar. Conners frees himself and drops Lazarus with an arm whip, and yes, another armbar, which goes into a grounded hammerlock.

The grappling stays strong as Lazarus gets a hammerlock takedown, and we finally move away from armbars and the like as Conners gets a slingshot suplex for a near-fall. Lazarus gets a back suplex for a two-count… and back to a grounded headlock. Another armdrag saw Lazarus grab an abdominal stretch on Conners, before switching it up to an Octopus stretch and then a backslide for a near-fall.

A clothesline from Conners drops Lazarus, with a second sending Lazarus face-first to the mat. Out of nowhere, Lazarus gets a crucifix pin for a near-fall, before the pair trade schoolboy roll-ups, as Lazarus’ gutwrench powerbomb also gets him a two-count. Conners caught a leapfrog from Lazarus, but Liam dropped down, then rolled him up with a version of a prawn hold for the win. This was weird… technically fine, but I’ll be honest, it lost me at times. I don’t think the crowd were expecting such a grappling-heavy match, and at times, it seemed like they were trying to do their best Timothy Thatcher impersonations. ***

Rampage Brown vs. Chris Dickinson
This is the first time I believe I’ve ever seen Dickinson, who mostly wrestles for CZW and Beyond Wrestling out of the north east of America. Rampage is the hometown favourite here, and we’ll be expecting something hard-hitting.

From the off, Rampage takes Dickinson into the corner for a clean break, before a shoulder tackle knocks down Dickinson. They trade punches, then kicks, ending with a Rampage dropkick that sent Dickinson into the corner.

A shoulder tackle off the top takes down Dickinson, who then gets set up on the top rope, but sunset flips out of a superplex, and instead takes down Rampage with a German suplex off the middle rope for a near-fall. Dickinson takes Rampage into the corner, before he ties him up in a Texas Cloverleaf in the middle of the ring.

A back suplex gets Dickinson a near-fall, as Rampage takes a kick to the head and a vertical suplex for another two-count. Dickinson traps Rampage in some body scissors, which eventually gets broken when Rampage makes the ropes. Rampage tries to kick away a back body drop but gets a clothesline for his troubles, as Dickinson goes back to a rear chinlock.

Rampage dumps Dickinson with a spinebuster after ducking some clotheslines and kicks, and he then unloads on Dickinson with some corner clotheslines. However, Rampage goes up top, and gets cut off as Dickinson pulls off a top rope ‘rana, before Rampage comes back with a lariat.

Dickinson blocks a piledriver and goes back to the Texas Cloverleaf, but again Rampage makes the ropes. A variety of punches and kicks keep Rampage in the ropes, but he rushes out to meet Dickinson off the ropes with a Samoan drop, and then finally scores the piledriver for the win. Perfectly acceptable big lad’s wrestling – perhaps not as flashy as you’d see elsewhere with these same guys, but you can only do so much. ***

All in, this Tidal show was pretty decent. Once you got past the opening matches with the low level guys and the mashups/clones, the action was memorable. Tidal’s one of those promotions that seems to come across better live than it does on tape, but as long as they’re using good, local talent like they are, they should be around for a long time to come.